Peltier: Jim Morrison pardon provides rock star status to legal proceedings

MICHAEL PELTIER

There was a little irony last week as fans of deceased rock icon Jim Morrison waited for hours before finding out the Doors’ lead singer and consummate bad boy rock star had been pardoned by Florida officials for a libido driven, profanity laced concert in 1969 that became synonymous with the turbulent late 60s.

The Florida Clemency Board voted to pardon the Doors’ front major for the performance at the Dinner Key Auditorium in Coconut Grove in which the “Lizard King” simulated sexual acts and railed against his audience before allegedly exposing his penis to the crowd.

Denying that he exposed himself, Morrison died in Paris in 1971, a year after his conviction on lewd and lascivious behavior charges critics say were trumped up by local officials hoping to put the cork back in a bottle opened two years earlier during the “Summer of Love.”

Citing the artist’s body of work and that he died before his appeal was complete, the panel voted 3-0 to pardon him for any crime he may have committed. The forth member of the panel abstained, complaining that the case has overshadowed more immediate yet less notable cases.

“In this case, the guilt or innocence is in God’s hands not ours,” said Gov. Charlie Crist, an admitted Doors’ fan and who, like his fellow clemency board members, will be leaving office next month.

More than 40 years later, Morrison again drew a crowd as the normally obscure clemency board hearing was packed with media. The crush forced some spouses, parents, children and extended family members of other lesser known applicants to stand up or wait outside. Banks of cameras waited on standby for hours as 39 often heart wrenching pardon and clemency requests were considered by the board before Morrison’s posthumous proposal came up.

The contrast was too much for Attorney General Bill McCollum, who said Morrison’s pardon certainly made headlines but was otherwise a relatively meaningless exercise.

Though not opposing the pardon, McCollum lamented that the 40-year-old case was of far less import than scores of other lesser known applicants seeking pardons and commutations to better provide for their families and get on with their lives.

“I understand there are a lot of fans of the Doors out there (but) this case is overshadowing - simply because of its celebrity status - the rest of what goes on today,” McCollum said.

The AG has a point. Morrison’s raunchy performance seems relatively tame by today’s standards. His stage antics are at least a generation or two from a culture in which gratuitous sex is passé and images that would have been considered pornographic now come in the mail to sell underwear. He’s also dead.

Meanwhile the waiting list for clemency appearances is long and many, if not most, requests are denied. For those trying to become productive members of society, the board becomes a lifeline to a better job, more access to their families and the ability to vote, hunt and do other things that most of us take for granted.

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Comments » 2

Thelizardking writes:

Here's a funny cartoon about the pardon & incident that caused Morrison's arrest:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vGndrC...
If you want to see what happened that night in Miami,check this video which was posted to youtube 3 weeks ago. Ironically it asks for a full pardon at the end. It has actual audio,photos and documents from the incident in question. Perhaps this is what Charlie Crist was watching in his spare time.Very amusing.Enjoy !
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5DB...

bmiinc#242824 writes:

MICHAEL PELTIER, thank you for your story on Jim Morrison Pardon.
I was at the Clemency Board meeting in Tallahassee Florida on Thursday 12-09-2010, it was quite interesting.
Please watch the 3 part video I have put together on Jim Morrisons Pardon.
Thank you, Mr. Mojo Risin.
Check it out at our channel.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIUT2P...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVJitl...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=od-XNj...

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